Fundamentalism isn’t just for True Believers.

I was recently reminded that you don’t have to be a far right Christian or radical Muslim to behave in a manner that can only be described as Fundamentalist. Turns out that cartoonists are quite capable of it as well. I didn’t get much in the way of new entries posted on SEB yesterday because I spent a good chunk of the day writing responses to a comment I had left earlier in this thread on the ToonTalk message forums. Later when I got email notifications that others had responded I went back to see what they had to say only to find that the folks who responded opted to drop all pretense of a discussion and go straight into personal attacks and insults, one of which was enough to draw a warning from the moderators (though very tame by SEB standards).

What started all this was an entry I posted back in August about the nasty reaction to Scott Kurtz’s announcement that he was going to give his webcomic PVP Online to any newspaper that wanted to run it free of charge. My entry wasn’t an argument in defense of Scott’s plan or why I thought it might work, but a commentary on the venom being spewed in his direction as a result of that plan. Nor did I make any claims to being a comic authority of any kind or having a clue how the industry works.

The entry garnered a few replies from the regulars and then sat there unnoticed for months until one of the cartoonists I had mentioned in it, Bob Burnette, happened to stumble upon it. He started a thread titled Be careful what you say…. on the Toon Talk forums which linked back to my entry and I noticed a spike in referrer traffic to it and it started to get comments from at least one TT regular so I hopped over to see what was being said. Burnette’s post was innocuous enough, but some of the replies to it suggested that I wrote the entry at Scott’s encouragement, which isn’t true, and this prompted me to register an account and leave a clarification of my own that addressed several of the points raised. Over the next few days my reply received its own comments and I went back to elaborate further. It had been several days at this point and there was a lot I wanted to cover so I left several responses one of which was particularly lengthy as is often the case when I’m trying to make sure I’m understood. I know I can be long-winded and I make no apologies for that.

Well, as you can see for yourself if you visit the thread, the immediate responses to my attempts at an honest discussion were quite a bit like many of the responses in the thread about Scott’s announcement. Members “Rodmck” and “mysteriousjohnny” opted to go with insults and personal attacks rather than address the points I had raised and I decided it just wasn’t worth taking any further. Rodmck in particular has the Fundamentalist style of “debate” down pat and if he ever loses his job as an illustrator because off the sudden rush of people willing to work for free he seems to be so worried about having happen if Scott goes through with his plan, well, let’s just say Rodmck will have a fine and profitable future as a Southern Baptist Televangelist ahead of him as his oratory skills are already more than adequate for the job. I left one last comment with a small dig at Rodmck to see if he’d respond as I thought he would wherein I suggested that whatever he’s paid is probably more than he’s really worth and he was more than happy to swallow the bait:

Hmmn, Lesley, average and overpaid, eh? On a public forum? Where potential and current employers (that’s my employers who pay me) may well be looking in. Take a look at my work and say it again. Publicly. I suggest you choose your words more wisely in future. At your age, you should know better. (at this stage I’d list all the publications that have ‘overpaid’ me, in Les’s expert opinion as a cartoon genius, but there isn’t enough room. I eagerly await his next post, which I trust will be forthcoming).

It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking milk or I would have snorted it out my nose with the laugh the above generated. I was particularly amused with his use of my full first name (correctly spelled no less) after he made of point of not spelling “Les” correctly in his previous replies. For simple and unfettered puerility, it’s hard to top this guy. I’m afraid he’s going to be disappointed if he really hopes that I’ll be responding further as I was serious that there was no point in bothering. The points I raised were largely ignored, though “mysteriousjohnny” did address the cartoonists-are-like-plumbers analogy he first proposed before devolving into statements like the following:

By the way if you’d like my detailed views on the IT industry I have many learned opinions from my position as a professional cartoonist.

For a start I think you guys should stop wearing such thick glasses and drinking so much Coke. Also, consider cutting back on the plaid shirts and pants that are too short.

Oh yeah, no more pen protectors in you front breast pocket.

I get the impression he was trying to be funny and, if that’s the case, I hope he does a better job with his comic strip than he did with the above. He was nowhere near as Fundamentalist in his approach as Rodmck so I don’t think he can fall back on a career in the clergy if he doesn’t improve the quality of his humor a tad.

As far as I’m aware I haven’t been exposed to whatever work these two fine representatives of the comic industry have done so I really don’t have an opinion on its quality one way or the other, but then as I mentioned in that thread I’m not a big consumer of comic strips in the first place. The only syndicated strip that I go out of my way every single day to read anymore is Foxtrot and I read it online because I don’t subscribe to the paper. You’ll note that on my wishlist I have various Foxtrot collections along with the few Calvin and Hobbes books I don’t already have. The reason I don’t read more is I think 95% of them aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Most just are not that funny and too many are just insipid. Yeah, I’m picky. So when I say I like something that means it’s pretty damn good in my view, but then that’s just my view and I’ve never claimed otherwise. But if Rodmck and mysteriousjohnny are representative of the attitudes of cartoonists in general then I have a new insight into why I think most of the stuff out there sucks so hard.

Perhaps they would have done well to take Bob Burnette’s suggestion to heart. They’ve certainly done nothing in that thread to earn them any respect on my behalf.

19 thoughts on “Fundamentalism isn’t just for True Believers.

  1. You’re a better man than me Les; please stop doing that moral highground shit, you’re making me look like a ‘bad’ Christian.  wink

    See, if I was the one who they started ganging up on like that, I would’ve promptly stopped posting with my original account, made no less than three different doppel accounts, and started trolling the hell out of those asses.  😀

    One would be pro-Kurtz, he’d be baiting the second doppel, who would be anti-Kurtz, and I’d probably also pretend that THAT doppel is the creator of some obscure comic that no one reads, but is trying to become syndicated.  Then the THIRD doppel would come out of left field saying “Hey guys, you’re all going on about Scott Kurtz, but have you seen what the Keenspot guy (Chris Crosby) is doing? He’s now offering the ‘Keenpage’ to newspapers for free, which has not just ONE comic, but about a DOZEN of them!  Man, you guys are going after the wrong man. 

    Then my doppels would continue arguing amongst themselves, and baiting the regulars. 

    Ah, what an sordid life I lead.

  2. Slick, are you sure you’re not really Rich Rosen, from the glory days of Usenet in the mid-‘80s?? grin

  3. I can’t stand creative people that “know” they’re creative.  Unfortunately creativity and pride seem to go hand-in-hand.  I’m sure I do it sometimes when I’m not looking too.

    That’s an interesting comparison to the fundamentalist arguments.  I don’t think you’re far off, but I don’t think it’s a trait of being fundamentalist but rather of being a jerk online.  According to Gabe and Tycho’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory:

    Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad.

    The specific beliefs of the person, or what they’re arguing for or against, are independent of their FQ (Fuckwad Quotient) I think.

  4. Wow. I just read through that thread over yonder and I don’t think I’ve ever run across a more self absorbed group of folks in my life. I may not be a cartoonist, but I am a writer, and as far as I’m concerned, anyone producing creative product has the right to market it however they choose, including giving it away. The number one goal should be to reach an audience an to entertain and whatever helps to do that is good. If the only thing you can think about is the dollar signs, you’re a monkey.

    On top of that, your work should be able to live and die on it’s own. It should be strong enough that the publishers want to shell out the cash for it, regardless of cost, because it’ll help them sell papers. If you have to worry about what the other guy is charging, maybe the work just isn’t good enough to be there in the first place.

  5. ‘Fraid not GeekMom, I was only born in ‘87, so unless I was posting from my mother’s womb, my age is incompatible with the timeline you’ve suggested.  Sounds like a cool guy though, you know if he still pokes around anywhere?

  6. Unfortunately creativity and pride seem to go hand-in-hand.

    And for some that don’t realize they lack creativity, that and ego seem to go hand-in-hand, too.

    Well, maybe it’s just that ego and pride regardless of talent is the annoyance.  It seems for the geekish who tended to grow up getting bullied, that when an admired skill is acquired (or successfully faked), there is the temptation to use it as a big stick, and any attempt to take the stick is seen as an attempt to take away the one strength they have.

  7. Which again shows how you’re reading what you want into what I said rather than what’s there. You think that amounts to an apology or retraction and it wasn’t either. It was an admission that it was possible you weren’t being a total ass, but you’ve since proven my original conclusion correct.

    But I understand why you’re so obsessed with it now. Doing a little Ego Googling and not happy with the results, eh? Kent Hovind knows exactly how you feel.

  8. Yep. It might seem pedantic but what you accused me of was false. It was sloppy and you know it.

    You eventually admitted this, which stands, regardless of what you think of my ass.

  9. Again he reads what he wants instead of what’s there. He thinks I admitted what I said was false, I didn’t. He thinks I’m talking about his ass instead of calling him an ass. Which just proves what an ass he is.

    This is getting to be very amusing very quickly. I wonder how long we can keep him making an ass out of himself?

  10. Yeah, it is amusing watching MJ using “bitching about ad-hominem attacks” as an ad-hominem attack. 

    Ad-hominem-infitum?

  11. See now, if I was Les I’d make a big point of how I never said “bitching about ad-hominem attacks

  12. (Les) I wonder how long we can keep him making an ass out of himself?

    So far, so good. Although he’s now throwing quotes at us, which is not a hopeful sign for continued entertainment.

  13. MJ: See now, if I was Les I’d make a big point of how I never said “bitching about ad-hominem attacks

  14. Ragman, please don’t think I’m under any illusions as to my role in this (and the other) thread. I’m the guy with the bassoon who’s walked into the banjo club.

    I know because I’ve seen it from the other side of things. I’ve been comfortably safe in my conviction that the lone interloper is doing little more than making a dick of himself because he’s never going to get the gang to see things his way. The fun of it is trying to nudge him this way and that enough in the hopes he’ll say something you can really go to town over.

    I’ve stuck with it because it’s sometimes interesting, and some of the things being said are actually worth reading. I liked your “ad-hominem attacks” comment and I kind of hashed the response to be frank, although I don’t think my suggestion you weren’t being witty falls into the category of ‘vile name calling’. In any case the quote was aimed at Les and his love of using the word ‘ass’.

    It’s also interesting to see how a mob operates from a differing perspective. The needling and the ability for points to be ignored and insults made valid through repetition and group agreement.

    I’m not hoping to win the ‘argument’. That would only be feasible if there wasn’t constant need for the pack to reassure itself by taking the odd jab outside the context of any debate.

    I’ve read some of the religious debate elsewhere on this site and so far it hasn’t peaked my interest. My guess is that a fascination with debunking the Bible only develops in earnest if you are lapsed believer. I’m neither.

    Surely it’s been covered at some other point on these pages but I’m personally fairly convinced that the Son of God myth pre-existed Jesus by a long way and was in reality a first stage initiation fable used to dazzle inductees to The Mysteries, a religion which dates back to the Egyptians and their worship of the living man-God Ra.

  15. See? I knew if we waited long enough he was bound to say something that would actually impress me. The one thing I haven’t figured out about MJ is why he makes a point of playing stupid when it’s apparent he’s not as clueless as he seems to be trying to paint himself. This also makes his refusal to actually address the points raised in the other discusssion that much more of an enigma.

  16. I’ve seen this kind of thing before. Perhaps it’s nothing but a form of arrogant trolling, perhaps it’s a method to evade an argument by poisoning your own well and then claiming the moral high ground by suddenly playing nice.

    Whatever. I’ve never seen it work on this site – or any other, for that matter.

  17. MJ, no, it wasn’t name calling, but it does lean towards a personal attack, and with your positioning of the two lines it made it appear that you were heading in that direction.  Hence, losing (not lost) the argument. 

    My guess is that a fascination with debunking the Bible only develops in earnest if you are lapsed believer.

      In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve noticed the debunking only comes out when a True Believer (I’ll figure out the copyright char at some point) shows up in their zealousness of FUNdamentlism to convert us heathens. 

    Being a technical person, I don’t see the free comic thing like you do.  I’m assuming you are not a technically inclined person, due to the outdated and slightly incorrect (plaid shirt?) stereotype.  I am also assuming Les’ view is similar to mine, which goes like this:  If Les and I both write killer email apps that ninja code monkeys can’t compete with, Newspaper Customer is going to decide between them, but he’s going to pick ONE.  If both are bug-free, work on anything from toasters to space shuttles, apples to lemons, and come with a free H1-B sponsered tech in every box, Corp Customer will be heavily influenced by price.  If Les offers his for free, I’ve lost a sale. 

    If Corp Customer is running a newspaper, is it wise for them to choose between running a Gary Larsen and a Bill Watterson?  The smart thing is to pick up both comics, even if they have to make room, since it can affect their readership.  Their only constraint would be budget, but if it can increase circulation, then it’s most likely worth it.  Papers do get pressured to pick up comics by readers, and I’ve heard people talk about which paper has a better comics section.

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